Former Trojan Randy Johnson Hurls Perfect Game
May 18, 2004
ATLANTA (AP) - Arizona's Randy Johnson became the oldest pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game, retiring all 27 hitters to lead the Diamondbacks over the Atlanta Braves 2-0 Tuesday night.
The 40-year-old left-hander struck out 13 and went to three balls on just one hitter -- Johnny Estrada in the second inning. Estrada fouled off three straight 3-2 pitches before going down swinging.
It was the 17th perfect game in major league history, the 15th since the modern era began in 1900 and the first since the New York Yankees' David Cone against Montreal on July 18, 1999.
Cy Young, then 37, had been the oldest to throw a perfect game, doing it in 1904.
It was the second no-hitter of Johnson's career. The other was for Seattle against Detroit on June 2, 1990.
Appropriately, Johnson struck out the final batter, pinch-hitter Eddie Perez. The Big Unit pumped his fist and raised his glove in the air. Catcher Robby Hammock arrived at the mound with the ball, giving his pitcher a big hug. Within seconds, he was mobbed by the rest of his teammates.
The crowd of 23,381 at Turner Field gave Johnson a standing ovation as he walked slowly toward the dugout. He waved in several directions before disappearing down the tunnel.
'Randy! Randy! Randy!' the fans chanted.
He became only the fifth pitcher to throw no-hitters in both the National and American leagues, joining Young, Jim Bunning, Hideo Nomo and Nolan Ryan.
The crowd sensed history in the making when J.D. Drew grounded out to end the eighth. The Atlanta fans gave Johnson (4-4) a standing ovation as he trudged off the mound, then another when he batted in the ninth.
While the Braves hit several balls hard off Johnson, the closest thing to a hit was a slow roller by Johnson's Atlanta counterpart, Mike Hampton, in the sixth. Alex Cintron scooped up the ball and threw out Hampton by a half-step.
Johnson lingered near the third-base line, giving Cintron a pat with the glove as he ran off the field.
Cintron also was the offensive hero, driving in Arizona's first run and scoring the other.
Johnson threw the first no-hitter in Seattle history and now he's pulled off the same feat for a different team. This was the first no-hitter for Arizona, which joined the major leagues in 1998.
The Braves, who started a makeshift infield because of injuries to Marcus Giles and Rafael Furcal, were no-hit for the first time in 25 years. Ken Forsch of Houston did it on April 7, 1979
In two straight games, short-handed Atlanta has endured dominating pitching performances. Milwaukee's Ben Sheets struck out 18 on Sunday. Now this -- the rarest of pitching feats.
Johnson seemed to get stronger as the night went on. His fastball was clocked at 98 mph in the late innings, and Andruw Jones lost his bat trying to catch up with a heater in the eighth.
Johnson dominated the Braves with two pitches, augmenting his fastball with a devastating slider.
The Diamondbacks snapped a five-game losing streak in which they scored only eight runs. Johnson took one of those losses, losing 1-0 to the New York Mets.
In fact, Arizona had scored only one run total in Johnson's previous two starts. They weren't much better this time, but it didn't matter.
Hampton (0-5) pitched his best game of the season, allowing eight hits. It didn't matter -- he's off to the worst start of his career.
Arizona went ahead 1-0 after Hampton retired the first two hitters in the second. Danny Bautista singled to right and came all the way around to score on Cintron's double to the gap in left-center.
The Diamondbacks added another run in the seventh, this time set up Cintron's double down the left-field line. With two outs, Chad Tracy lined an RBI single up the middle.